MLB Trade Deadline 2012: Evaluating What the Worst Teams Have to Offer
There are quite a few losing records in the MLB this year, and as always, those teams will become the biggest "sellers" at the July 31 trade deadline.
Let's take a look at what the MLB's worst teams have to offer.
1. Chicago Cubs (24-44)
Becoming more and more of a custom in Chicago, the Cubs will dump their lineup for minor league prospects again in 2012. This year, the biggest names on the radar are Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano.
Dempster was recently placed on the 15-day DL, but I wouldn’t look too far into his injury. Dempster has dealt with a tight right lat muscle all season, and it seems that the move to the DL was more precautionary than anything. The only effect the injury should have is the time in which the Cubs are able to deal Dempster to another team.
Cubs’ President Theo Epstein had this to say to the Chicago Tribune regarding the timetable of a future transaction:
Generally when players have these sort of minor injuries, it’s typical to wait until they come back and re-establish health before engaging in any serious trade talks.
With the Dempster sweepstakes on hold, fellow starter Matt Garza will now become the center of Chicago’s rumor mill.
Garza has a WHIP of 1.11 and ERA of 4.07 this season (with Cubs pitching, it never seems fair to include their wins and losses). His numbers have jumped a bit in his last few starts, but it’s no secret how effective No. 22 can be on the rubber. Chicago seems to know this more than anyone. A team official for one potential buyer claims you need to “bring your firstborn to the table” if you want a shot at Garza.
For Alfonso Soriano, however, the asking price is a tad lower—say, your favorite bag of chips and a rusty set of golf clubs. Soriano’s current contract has him earning $18 million each year until 2014, a steep price for a .250 average and 20 HR. Throw his age (36) and horrendous fielding abilities into the picture, and you may just want to eat those chips yourself.
2. Padres (24-45)
The Padres have two bats and one arm that should stir the waters of the MLB market.
Carlos Quentin could very well be the best hitter available this season. He’s hitting .373 in 2012 with an OPS over 1.000. And get this, he’s only worth $4.4 million. Quentin has proved he can play both left and right field, so versatility will raise his stock that much higher.
The one question mark concerning Quentin isn’t anything in his game, it’s whether or not San Diego will let him leave.
The Padres organization is currently for sale, and a player like Quentin could be the guy future owners want to build their team around.
3B Chase Headley has also showed some promise this year. Headley could be a great guy to throw in the first or second hole of your lineup. He’s disciplined at the plate, drawing a ton of walks (42) and he’s a switch hitter meaning he can play everyday.
RP Huston Street is the last of the Padres' notable players on the market. Street has a WHIP under one and an ERA of 1.84 this season, giving up just three runs in the 15 games he’s pitched all year. But the stat that every GM will love to see are his eight saves in eight opportunities.
There’s always a need for a new closer or setup man this time of year, and Street has to be considered among the top at those positions.
3. Kansas City Royals (30-36)
Francoeur is a clubhouse favorite. His personality is contagious and he’s not too shabby of a ball player either. So why would the Royals shop him around? Because there’s a new sheriff in town.
OF Wil Myers has been tearing up the minor leagues. Since being promoted to AAA, Myers has hit .321 with 10 HR and 30 RBI (in just 28 games). Kansas City feels their best shot at becoming a contender would be to get as much value for Francoeur as possible. The Royals' production shouldn't skip a beat with the internal replacement of Myers.
The Royals sit only 4.5 games out of the AL Central, so letting Francoeur go wouldn’t necessarily classify them as "sellers."
Some sources claim RP Jonathan Broxton will be on the market, but if the Royals want to continue to strive towards the postseason, it would be a mistake letting Broxton leave.
Last year’s closer Joakim Soria is still on the 60-day DL, and Broxton has been phenomenal in his absence. Broxton is currently fourth in the AL in saves, only blowing two opportunities all year long.
Kansas City’s decision to part ways with Broxton should come down to the last week of July.
4. Toronto Blue Jays (35-33)
In the past week, the Blue Jays lost three starting pitchers to injury: Brandon Morrow (7-4), Kyle Drabek (4-7) and Drew Hutchinson (5-3). A blow of that magnitude is exactly the type of catastrophe that can destroy a team’s morale and playoff hopes.
Playing in baseball’s toughest division doesn’t make things any easier, so GM Alex Anthopoulos has to quickly decide which direction he wants his team to go: up or down. In the NBA, analysts might call it "tanking," but in the MLB, a league so dependent on minor league prospects, it’s simply another strategy towards success.
Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson will be the two biggest names on the Anthopoulos’ trading block.
This past Sunday, Encarnacion made his first professional appearance as an outfielder, a move that could’ve been requested by GMs around the league. Encarnacion has been the Blue Jays’ main DH all season, but Anthopoulos wants others to know (specifically those National League teams) that he can play anywhere you need him to.
At 29 years old, Encarnacion seems to be at the peak of his career. He’s hitting .279 with 19 HR and 46 RBI, so if your team needs a three through five hitter, pick up that phone.
Kelly Johnson could be a second option for teams if they are still unsure of Encarnacion’s fielding abilities. Johnson has started 60 games at second base for Toronto this season, and he is one of the most powerful hitters at that position. With nine homers and an OPS of .727, Johnson could hit as high as second or as low as sixth.
5. The Rest of the Bunch
The Brewers could potentially become "sellers" and deal Zack Greinke. Greinke is a stock with a high return value, but other than him, there isn’t much to offer.
That’s the problem with these six teams. They have horrible records, but they don’t have anyone worth anything.
The A’s have Bartolo Colon, but you can’t get much for him.
The Astros have Wandy Rodriguez, but no one wants to take on his inflated salary.
The Twins will offer Justin Morneau, but his history of injuries is a huge red flag.
And the Rockies will offer Jeremy Guthrie (and maybe even Jason Giambi) but those guys aren’t going to make much of a difference anywhere.
It’s hurtful to say, but for fans of these teams, you are going to be at the bottom of the food chain for a few more years.